Demagog.cz

Organization: Demagog.cz
Applicant: Petr Gongala
Assessor: Jan Indra

Background

Demagog is one of the very few and the oldest and the most reputable fact-checking organization in the Czech Republic. Starting in 2012, the organization has, in the last 10 years, significantly improved its level or professionalism, which has also been reflected in the public sphere as the project is the main national source of fact-checking of political debates and discussions.

In an era of widespread populism and politicians not being concerned with lying all that much, Demagog plays a somehwat indispensable role, which is especially highlighted in the pre-election period, with (almost too many) political discussion taking place almost every day. In the two months preceding the parliamentary election, Demagog published over 300 fact-checks, significantly contributing to the public discussion before an important election.

One aspect I would like to point out is also the consistency of the main representatives of the organization, most of which have been working for Demagog for years. As a non-profit organization, working for Demagog is definitely more of a “public good“ oriented activity than one that could be overly profitable (which is also evident from the level of financial resources the organization has at its disposal). The team consistency also helps to uphold the laid out standards concerning methodology as more experienced team members are able to appropriately train newcomers.

The organization has also demonstrated strong committment to trying to innovate and expand its activities, whether it is a launch of DemagogTV (live fact-checks shown during the course), cooperation with Facebook or the participation on the new CEDMO (Central European Digital Media Observatory) project, becoming not just a fact-checking organization, but one that also is one of the main promoters of media literacy and accountability in the country.

Assessment Conclusion

This was my 4th time assessing Demagog and I can confidently state that the level of professionalism present on its website and in their fact-checks in steadily improving.

Taking into account a lot of my previous recommendations, the website is now fully transparent, with slight recommendations on my part regarding the bios of main/leading team members of the organization and the distribution of topics with respect to conducted fact-checks. I would also welcome a slightly more detailed annual reports but overall, there was not much I could crticize after all my recommendations from previous years were accounted for.

The organization`s team currently also lists 40 people, potentially asking for a more detailed description of the organization`s hierarchy and the editorial process. To a certain degree, however, this is an internal issue and in my opinion it is up to discussion how much a fact-checking organization needs to publicly describe its internal processes (gatekeeping levels, how many fact-checkers/editors are a part of each fact-check, how much are the Board members involved in daily operations etc.)

I also highly commend the methodology of Demagog, which clearly shows a focus on using as many primary sources of fact-checks as possible (be it official data, or documents) and a focus on high-quality argumentation and contextualization of each fact-check. Quite often, the fact-checks provide an interesting contextual insight into the overall issue at hand (housing, energy, economy etc.) and I would say goes even beyond strictly focusing on assessing a statement.

One slight note: the number of conducted fact-checks has decreased since 2018 and it would be worth explaining whether this is an impact of the pandemic, or possibly higher focus on quality of each fact-check and its arguemntation rather than a chase to conduct as many fact-chcks as possible.

Overall, I am once again recommending Demagog to be accepted as a signatory and believe that in its 10 years of existence, it has become a stable part of the Czech media/fact-checking sphere, albeit one that still has to look for ways of how to improve/further stabilize its financing.


on 08-Nov-2021 (6 months ago)

Jan Indra assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

Tohle bylo počtvrté, kdy jsem měl možnost hodnotit transparentnost, metodologii a celkovou fact-checkingovou aktivitu Demagogu.

Můžu sebevědomě prohlásit, že úroveň aktivit i transparentnosti organizace se při každém dalším hodnocení zvýšila, je zde tak patrný pozitivní trend. Webovým stránkám už téměř nemám co vytknout, snad bych jen ocenil širší životopisy u vedoucích členů organizace, na základě kterých by bylo možné popsat případnou (ne)existenci jakýchkoliv potenciálních střetů zájmů.

Ačkoliv bez detailní analýzy nemohu relevantně posoudit, na základě mého hodnocení se i financování organizace jeví jako čím dál stabilnější, což by mělo umožnit její další rozvoj. V tomto ohledu si dovolím navrhnout ještě větší důraz na detailněji zpracované výroční zprávy, které jsou hlavním dokumentem zaznamenávajícím činnost organizace v daném roce.

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago)

Demagog.cz is legally registered as an association with the explicit purpose of fact-checking and related activities. Information about the association and its structure are listed on the website at: https://demagog.cz/stranka/o-nas .

Link to public register: https://or.justice.cz/ias/ui/rejstrik-firma.vysledky?subjektId=938169&typ=PLATNY

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As evidenced on the website and in the Czech register of legal entities, I can confirm that Demagog is a standalone non-profit organization, whose main purpose is “fact-checking of political debates“, “media literacy education“, “development of civic society and democracy“ and “promoting principles of accountability“.


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

1) Demagog.cz was publicly launched in February 2012 for the purpose of fact-checking public political debates. Back then, there was no media organization explicitly dedicated to fact-checking in the country and we (largely students from Brno, Czech Rep.) felt that there was need to publish independent fact-checks for debates during elections and even for those happening each week on TV.

For the past 9 years, our mission has remained the same: provide the public with unbiased information, point out falsehoods and misleading claims, and educate young people, not least our student interns, on how to find and use sources of data.

2) Who currently works (mostly volunteers) at Demagog.cz:

5 editors

16 analysts, mostly interns, out of whom 2 manage our social media accounts

9 analysts-proofreaders

3 IT specialists

2 coordinators

3) Besides fact-checking, we:

a) run workshops on fact-checking and media literacy,

b) promote fact-checking during various public gatherings,

c) maintain political promise trackers,

d) are developing a tool for teaching media literacy in schools,

e) cooperate with Facebook to fact-check widely shared content,

f) work with AI developers to research and develop automated tools for fact-checkers.

4) We have expanded our focus somewhat over the past year, fact-checking content on social media, incl. a partnership with Facebook, joining a European consortium to combat misinformation, and working with AI researchers to develop tools for fact-checkers. Over the coming year we mostly need to increase our personnel capacity to be able to fully carry out all these activities. Although our numbers have not increased so far, we are already expanding the contract hours of our existing employees and increasing the number of paid analysts/interns.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

1) Looking at the available data from the Internet archive Wayback Machine, it is clearly visible that the website started operating in 2012 (screenshot 1), with the first content appearing since March and already focused on the topic of fact-checking (screenshot 2).

2) Currently, the website of Demagog lists 39 people involved in the project, which is actually more than the 35 people the Applicant has mentioned (maybe the list of team members has not been uopdated recently?).

However, all members of the Board are listed on the website as well as other team members and volunteers. The entry of each team member shows his position and a short bio – a large majority of the team members are still active students.

Several team members list their other professional commitments, no apparent conflict of interests was identified (e.g. working for a political body or business known for its connection to politics).

3) Demagog actively offers media literacy workshops on its website. The last photo evidence of such event can be identified on Demagog`s FB page and it is from April 2018, however, the annual report from 2019 also lists several places where workshops took place.

It would seem logical that the covid-19 pandemic has infuenced workshop organization to a large degree, an information on potential online educational activities would be welcome (if the exist).

The activity of promotion of fact-checking is clearly visible even online.

The project of political promise trackers has also ben suffciently documented in the annual reports.

The cooperation with Facebook is also mentioned on the website.




done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

All our fact-checks are listed directly on our website: https://demagog.cz with some publications containing fact-checks of a number of claims made during the same speech, interview or debate.

To find past political fact-checks, you can switch pages at the bottom of the list. For lists of fact-checks of particular politicians, parties, topics etc., go to https://demagog.cz/vypis-recniku or https://demagog.cz/vyroky or use our API ( https://demagog.cz/stranka/api-pro-vyvojare ).

An Excel file with past fact-checked political statements is attached.

Besides fact-checking politicians, Demagog.cz works with Facebook to fact-check and label widely shared Facebook content: https://demagog.cz/spoluprace-s-facebookem

Files Attached
description statements.xlsx (2 MB)
Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Looking at the provided data with all fact-checked statements, the activity of Demagog regarding the number of fact-checks has been in my opinion sufficient.

Overall, 865 statements were fact-checked in 2021, with an average of 25 fact-checked statements per week.

There were several weeks (especially during the summer months), specifically 7, that do not have a fact-checked statement.

However, the data suggests that the time measure corresponds to the source release date of the statements otself rather than daily records of Demagog`s activity, therefore it is probable to assume that the work is on-going at all times regarding fact-checking activitiy.

Files Attached
Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (90 KB) Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (80 KB)
done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Looking at the available data with all fact-checked statements, the database contains the contents of each statement. A potential idea for improvement (and further analysis) would be to add a column to the database categorizing each statements within a certain topic (economy, environment, social, taxes) or identifying a list of keywords to be highlighted.

NOTE: Interestingly, the topics are assigned to certain fact-checks on Demagog`s website but not as a part of the Excel database.

Inspecting the data manually, virtually all statements relate to the public sphere as most statements come from politicians or other publicly known figures. The most current and hevaily fact-checked statement topics include green energy and the enviornment, infaltion, taxes, electricity costs, and of course, the covid-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, using a randomized sample of 30 fact-checked statements, I manually assigned topics to each fact-check based on the contents of the statement. Using this randomized sample, this further supports the notion that virtually all fact-checks relate to topics of public interest, with economy being the most frequent topic, followed by covid-19, social issues, EU affairs and the environment.

Files Attached
Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (66 KB) Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (66 KB)
done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

We accept no funding or donations from political parties or politicians.

In 2021 Demagog.cz joined a national hub established under EDMO, a European Commission project intended to coordinate and support fact-checkers around Europe. As part of the project the Commission will provide financial support for Demagog's fact-checking activities.

https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/european-digital-media-observatory
https://fsv.cuni.cz/en/news/central-european-digital-media-observatory-cedmo-will-be-located-faculty-social-sciences

 

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As stated, no donation from a political body or other state actors was identified in the list of transactions of Demagog`s transparent bank account.

The Applicant has attached an article describing the organization`s involvement in the new Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO) project. Pending the project status, I would recommend its description and the volume of funding to be published on the website as there is no information about this on the website at this point.


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Our financing is described on our website: https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-je-projekt-demagogcz-financovan

As for the EDMO project mentioned for Criteria 1.5., the hub is only just being set up and no EU financing has been received so far. Over time, we will devote a section of the website to a description of the project, its activities and financing.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As mentioned above and suggested by the Applicant, the information on the funding received in the context of the CEDMO project will be published on the website once the Applicant receives funding.

As the funding to be received from the Euroean commission relates to the CEDMO project and not the fact-checking/general activity of Demagog itself, editorial independence should be maintained.


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The fact-checks listed below, most of which cover multiple statements, illustrate that whether we are checking statements made in an interview, in a tweet or a Facebook post, we apply the same basic approach:

1) Identify the various interpretations of the claim and their broader contexts;

2) Present data, ideally based on primary sources, and link to sources whenever they are available online;

3) Determine whether there is a reasonable interpretation of the claim that is supported by available data. If not, the claim is false;

4) If the claim is true, determine whether, when put into context, the claim does not lead the listener/reader to a false conclusion. If it does, the claim is misleading.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Inspecting the provided statements and their assessment, it is evident that Demagog has been working on its methodology and gradually improving it for years. Virtually each assessment`s logical argumentation is supported by multiple sources (legislative documents, official statistics, other relevant research on a given topic) and is put into perspective and context, especially with respect to statements that are assessed as “misleading“ or “false“.

The same approach is applied to statements regardless of the politicial affiliation of a given speaker.

Even with respect to cases where a certain bias could be potentially expected, e.g. the current (and highly controversial) Prime Minister Andrej Babiš talking about the salaries of teachers and its comparison with the previous political representation, Demagog does the most to stay objective and concludes its assessment of this statement that even when accounting for a slight difference in the specific numbers being quioted, the crux of the statement is true and therefore it is assessed as such.

Furthermore, the assessments and their contextualization show the thought process of the fact-checker in the sense that usually the primary source statistical (or other) data is inspected and then follows an explanation of how the data could or could not be interpreted, confirming compliance with the criteria that evidence should dictate the outcome of the assessment.

In my opinion, the professionalism of Demagog`s methodology is apparent and is therefore clearly compliant.


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

While we employ no strict formula to ensure balance, we make sure that politicians from all parliamentary parties are covered in our publications, with an increased focus on those in executive positions. During election time, we cover all parties with significant levels of support. Our primary focus is on interviews and debates or debate segments, from which we simply draw all factual statements and check those regardless of perceived importance.

https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-hodnotime-metodika

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Looking at the available statement data, the distribution of fact-checked among political parties seems quite logical, with the main government party ANO2011 in lead with 217 fact-checked statements in 2021.

The other heavily fact-checked parties include the othewr governmental party ČSSD (Social Democrats) and the main oppoistion parties – Civic Democrats (ODS), Communists (KSČM), the pirate party (Piráti) and far-right party Svoboda a přímá demokracie (SPD).

The high no. of fact-checks attributed to the party Strana práv občanů stems from the fact that this is a party of the current Czech president Miloš Zeman.

Interestingly, no fact-checked statements have been attributed to the Czech Green Party which has very little support in the country, but as explained, Demagog focuses on fact-checking political debates and as such its fact-checking activity is also then influenced by the selection of debates guests by the various national public or commercial media.

Files Attached
Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (43 KB) Demagog_IFCN_asessme... (76 KB)
done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Analyzing the provided fact-checks and the random sample selected by the Assessor, one thing that I really like is how Demagog puts the topic/statement being fact-checked into proper context through official data, secondary research (sometimes conducted by private organizations, e.g. Deloitte) or other sources.

However, Demagog does not usually describe the source of given information. Regardless, I asssess the organization as compliant with this criterion as the analysis of the randomized sample did not point to an instance of using a source where its own interests could influence the outcome of the fact-check.

The ony identified commercial relationship Demagog has relates to its work as a fact-checking organization for Facebook. This is, however, clearly stated on the website and no instance of where this relationship could influence the fact-checks was identified.


done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Looking at Demagog`s assessments, they do not show any bias towards any political viewpoint or a specific policy position. Likely attributed to the fact that the team has been active for years, developing its methodology and sourcing, and with the same personnel leading the organization, high standards regarding objectivity of the assessment and the argumentation based on data is evident.


done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Our code of ethics includes non-partisanship as one of the primary principles. Both employees and volunteers are required to disclose membership in political parties or political youth organizations and are barred from working in Demagog.cz if they become members or become employed or volunteer for such an entity.

https://demagog.cz/stranka/eticky-kodex-demagogcz

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As evidenced by the Applicant. the code of ethics of the organization strictly prohibits working for Demagog and being politically affiliated at the same time. The code clearly lists that any politically affiliated must be reported and lead to the termination of the given staff member`s role at Demagog.

For puproses of the assessment, I have analyzed 100 Facebook posts of Demagog`s Board members (4 people) as they have the ultimate editorial power.

Each post was labbelled as either containing or not containing political content (posts promoting Demagog`s activities were labelled as not containing political content). Furthermore, if the posts were labelled as having political content, potential bias presented was assessed.

Overall, only 20 of the 100 posts were labelled as having political content, most of which were shared articles about international politics (especially Donald Trump). While a potential bias was identified in 3 out of the 100 posts, this bias was only associated with US politics and is not relevant for Demagog`s activities (and it also dates back several years to when Trump was still president).

To sum it up, no clear political favoritism or bias concerning the eading figures of Demagog was identified. 

Files Attached
Snímek obrazovky 20... (77 KB)
done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog is very thorough with providing sources of data releated to each fact-checked statement. These sources often include official statistics or other figures and the fact-checking often includes a contextualization of a statement where it could have been, wither deliberately or not, slightly twisted and therefore labelled as either misleading or false. Where available, Demagog always provides links in its fact-checks to online source so the fact-checking process can be replicated if desired.


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog frequently uses primary sources such as official government documents, statistics or reports, either at national or international level (mainly EU).                                                                                                            


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The fact-checks of Demagog often compare more sources when they are available. For example, in quite frequent cases where one politican talks about another politican`s statements from the past, Demagog tries to identify multiple potential statements of the politician whose statements are being mentioned in the fact-checked statement, and evaluates which of these was likely the subject of the current fact-checked statement.


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In its assessments, Demagog often puts the effort to provide a detailed contextualization of not only the fact-checked statement itself, but also the overall topic that the statement is associated with. Using my randomised sample of fact-checks, I have not identified an instance where the interests of a given source could indicate bias, with large majority of the sources used being official statistics or documents.

A potential bias could be expected when using sources such as media articles or other secondary sources. In this sense, Demagog does not provide a background of each secondary source it uses, however, I believe the provided contextualization is sufficient and the source backgroud would need to be dealt with in cases where it would be the only or one of very few sources of the fact-check, however, such sources usually make up only a small part of the argumentation as on average, a fact-check of Demagog contains 12 different sources.


done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog.cz is an independent organization, legally a registered association.

Record in public register: https://or.justice.cz/ias/ui/rejstrik-firma.vysledky?subjektId=938169&typ=PLATNY

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As confirmed looking at the official Public Registry data, Demagog is a standalone organization whose main activity is fact-checking.

The website dedicated to financing highlights the main donations received in the last several years, with an added link to the organization`s transparent bank account. A large portion of the financing is provided by small donors via different platforms.


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Financial information on our website: https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-je-projekt-demagogcz-financovan

Our accounts are not audited, the accounting requirements for our association are limited, but all financial transactions made and received by Demagog.cz are listed on our "transparent account" available to the public.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

On its website, Demagog clearly describes how its funded (grants. small donors), lists several of the biggest donations in recent years and also provides a link to its transparent bank account with all the transactions listed. This area of Demagog`s transparency has been notably improved in the last several years taking into account also my recommendations from previous assessments.

The legal form of the organization is clearly speicified as non-profit.

One slight improvement I would, as assessor, appreciate, woiuld be to keep a csv/excel database of all the transaprent bank account transactions so they could be easily analyzed in the case of re-applying.


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Section "Spolek Demagog.cz" at https://demagog.cz/stranka/o-nas

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The website lists all team members of Demagog with their respective positions.

It is clearly described that the main editorial control rests with the organization`s statutory body, its Board comprising currently of 4 members. 



done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Section "Kdo připravuje Demagog.cz?" at: https://demagog.cz/stranka/o-nas

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The website lists 39 members of the organization`s team including their short biographies.

Potentially, some of the bios, e.g. of the organization`s Board members and its editors, could be more detailed, naming specific organizations/institutions where the given team member has worked (e.g. with respect to the chief editor Jan Fridrichovský, the bio only states that he worked as an analyst in the public sector, but not stating the specific workplace).

I could even imagine attaching their CVs to their profiles or at least their link to LinkedIn (in several cases this is provided).

With respect to the lowest-level team members, most of which are still active students, the short bios are sufficient in my opinion.


done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Our contact page lists the email address and phone number of the project coordinator, plus a general team contact for any requests and queries to the organization: https://demagog.cz/stranka/kontakty

Users can also get in touch with us on Facebook via direct messages or comments: https://www.facebook.com/Demagog.CZ/

We encourage users to contact us when they find incorrect information in any of our fact-checks, if they are aware of additional data sources or if they simply have a suggestion on who and what to fact-check: https://demagog.cz/stranka/mam-vyhradu-k-hodnoceni-nebo-navrh-na-overeni-kam-se-mohu-obra

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As described by the Applicant, Demagog invites its audience to reach out to the organization and its team via its website and published contact info or through Facebook.


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Our methodology: https://demagog.cz/stranka/jak-hodnotime-metodika .

A specific of Demagog.cz is that we largely focus on debates, speeches or interviews and their segments and fact-check all factual statements made during their course. Over the past 9 years we have checked on average more than 100 claims each month (our current average is around 60) and many more during election campaigns. As a result, we have not found it practicable to contact the speakers in reference to each claim. Rather, we communicate with them and their offices when we are unable to find sufficient sourcing for an assessment of their claim.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog quite thoroughly describes its methodology on the attached website. The described specifics of the fact-checking activity and communication with politicans` assistants and offices seems logical as the need for communication arises primarily in situations when sufficient sourcing was not identified.


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As stated elsewhere, Demagog focuses primarily on fact-checking political debates. By nature, the organization then logically focuses on national highly publicly visible debates, discussions or interviews, where the statements that are presented have a high potential to reach a large audience/part of the public. 


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In several identified cases, Demagog looks at multiple interpretations of a given fact-checked statements, including the underlying data or assumptions.

Looking at for example a fact-checked statements related to the Prime Minister talking about a Pirate Party member František Kopřiva and his statements about the housing crisis and approaches to real estate taxation, Demagog identifies multiple sources of Kopřiva`s statements, comments on his public activity by the party leader, and evaluates these against how the Prime Minister has interpreted these statements in his own derogatory statement. While there is evidence, that Mr Kopřiva has expressed some potentially controversial ideas (e.g. evidence for truthfulness of the statement of the Prime Minister), Demagog also provides evidence that the party line, expressed also by its Chairman Ivan Bartoš, is different and does not follow statements made by a lower-level member of the party without any significant roles within it. In the end, the second evidence prevailed and the Prime Minister`s comments were then labelled as False.


done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Using the randomized sample of fact-checks, I have selected numerous claims by leading politicians from parties across the political spectrum and can confidently state that Demagog`s methodology or use of sources does not change based on the fact-checked speker`s identity or political affiliation.


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As stated, Demagog is in touch with numerous politicians or their offices and contacting them with respect to cases where their statements (or parts of those) the organization was unable to verify.

For verification, I have chosen a sample of 10 fact-checks of Demagog labelled as unverifiable and insoected the assessment. In 6 out of 10 cases, Demagog has made the effort to contact relevant sources (politicians, institutions) in its efforts to assess a given statement properly, therefore I am assessing Demagog to be compliant with this criterion.

Files Attached
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done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

We encourage readers to make suggestions on who and what to fact-check on our website: https://demagog.cz/stranka/mam-vyhradu-k-hodnoceni-nebo-navrh-na-overeni-kam-se-mohu-obra .

We used to host a web-based platform called "Ověř to", where fans could suggest claims to check and vote on which ones should be prioritized. The platform was discontinued after a few years due to low public interest and the fact that most of the claims submitted were not factual.

While we receive a number of suggestions over email, few if any contain claims that are current and factual. On the other hand, we are increasingly focused on claims made on social media and receive suggestions via tweet, Facebook comment etc. This type of audience interaction is still relatively new for us and posts on social media represent a small percentage of our work.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

As provided, Demagog clearly invites its audience to send claims to be fact-chgecked, temporarily even going beyond the standard open call with its web-based platform “Ověř to“.

However, over the years it has become clear that the audidence its not as much interested in sending claims to be fact-checked itself


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago
Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog has a separate website dedicate to its corrections policy, clearly outlining how the audicence can challenge/question its fact-checking activity.


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog has a fairly detailed corrections policy published on its website. The policy esentially has 4 major steps:

1. Demagog is informed by anbyody from the audience about a possibvle error.

2. New information is analyzed thoroughly.

3. based on the analysis, the fact-check assessment is adjusted (or not).

4. If the assessment was changed, a correction is published right next to the part of the fact-check with the original error.


In the last 2 years, Demagog has made 15 corrections in total. All corrections are listed on the corrections policy website with a link to the original and corrected fact-check.


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Over the past 12 months we received 8 correction requests which resulted in changes of assessment, mostly by providing additional information related to a statement that we had considered unverifiable. Correction requests have lately took the form of Facebook comments, sometimes by the speakers themselves arguing for the veracity of their claims, to which we respond using the same means while applying our standard corrections process.

Examples of recent corrections (short note within each fact-checking article):

https://demagog.cz/vyrok/20576

https://demagog.cz/vyrok/20418

https://demagog.cz/vyrok/20194


Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

All corrections are clearly and visibly marked in a given fact-check. Since the fact-check argumentation is often quite long and thorough, Demagog places the correction notification right next to the passage of the fact-check where an error was made.


done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago
Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Demagog actively invites its audience to contact IFCN should they believe its principles have been violated.


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

Demagog.cz
25-Oct-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Not Applicable

Jan Indra Assessor
02-Nov-2021 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

This criterio does not apply to Demagog.cz as it is a standalone fact-checking organízation.


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Jan Indra.